About Us

The Asklepios Orchestra is an amateur orchestra, founded in 1969 by Dr. David Humphreys, a Physician in the Birmingham General Hospital where the orchestra originally rehearsed. However, following refurbishment of the General, our orchestra used several other rehearsal venues and we now rehearse in the Methodist Church Hall at Northfield. Although the orchestra has a "medical" origin, we welcome players from anywhere. You do not have to be "medical" to join us.


Salaried members pay £50 and students £20 per term.

Where and when do we meet?

We meet on Wednesday evenings 7:45pm to 9:45pm (best to arrive by 7:30pm) at Northfield Methodist Church Hall, Chatham Road, Northfield, B31 2PH.

What's in a name?

The title of the orchestra derives from the ancient Greek healer Asklepios (Ἀσκληπιός, Latin form Aesculapius). Asklepios was said to have saved the unborn child of Apollo and became physician of the argonauts. He and his daughter Hygieia were later deified with special responsibility for healing. Various temples were built to Asklepios, perhaps the most famous being at Epidaurus where a magnificent theatre was also constructed. David Humphreys visited Epidaurus during a holiday and the link between early medicine and entertainment gave him the initial idea for the title of the orchestra. In addition, however, close by Epidaurus is Delphi where the oracle was also associated with music, hence a further link between Medicine and Music.  


Works Played by Asklepios in recent years

Beethoven, Symphony No 1; Beethoven, Symphony No.3; Brahms, Symphony No.2; Brahms, Symphony no.4; Chausson, Poeme; Dvorak, Symphony No.8; Dvorak, Symphony No.7; Dvorak, Symphony No.9 'From the New World'
Elgar Cello concerto, Elgar Chanson de Nuit, Grieg Peer Gynt Suite, Haydn Symphony No 100, Haydn Symphony 101, Haydn Symphony 103, Haydn Cello Concerto No.2,
Mendelssohn Overture Ruy Blas, Mendelssohn Symphony No.3 (Scottish), Mozart Symphony No.35 'Haffner', Mozart Overture to Don Giovanni, Reinecke Flute Concerto, Schubert Overture in the Italian Style, Weber Overture Der Freischutz, Weber Clarinette concerto No.2


Our Conductor, Lee Armstrong

Lee Armstrong studied music, concentrating on the cello, composition and orchestration, at the University of Birmingham, graduating in 2000. Upon graduating, he co-founded two large cello ensembles, The University of Birmingham Cello Ensemble and ‘Celli’. He began conducting in 2004, initially with Celli, but was soon offered a post conducting and coaching Dudley Performing Arts Advanced Strings, a position he held from 2005 to 2010. As a result of his work with DPA, in 2008 he was offered the opportunity to conduct the strings of Central England Ensemble in an annual concert, and took up the post of Assistant Conductor of South Birmingham Sinfonia in 2009. He coached the strings and conducted string sectionals with South Birmingham Sinfonia, alongside Principal Conductor Lee Differ, until 2013.

Lee made his symphonic conducting debut with Central England Ensemble, and was appointed Associate Conductor, in November 2011.  From then until June 2015, he conducted three concerts per year with the orchestra.Notable repertoire includes Janacek’s Suite for Strings, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, his own orchestration of Lekeu’s Piano Sonata as a Symphony for Strings, Kalinnikov’s Symphony No.1, Barber’s Violin Concerto (with Amy Littlewood), Copland’s Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo, Debussy’s Danses sacrées et danses profanes (with harpist Rita Schindler), a concert of film music and the UK premiere of Vladimir Yurovsky’s Symphony No.5.

Lee has also been an Associate Conductor of the Birmingham-based chamber orchestra Eroica camerata since 2010. Conducting highlights with the orchestra include Arnold Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (with Jacob Torma), his own orchestration of Vaughan-Williams’ Five English Folk Songs and Leonid Desyatnikov’s virtuoso, ‘tango-concerto’ arrangement of Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (with Amy Littewood).

As a cellist, Lee performed with Central England Ensemble from 2001 to 2015 and with Sinfonia of Birmingham from 2005 to 2010. He has also been section principal of Eroica camerata since the orchestra’s inception in 2005.

Lee is a prolific arranger and orchestrator. He has made cello ensemble arrangements for Oxford Cello School, Birmingham Conservatoire and the cello section of the RTE Symphony Orchestra. His string orchestra arrangements have been played around the UK, in Germany, the USA, Australia and Russia. Several of them are published by Good Music and videos of the Moscow-based Chamber Orchestra Kremlin performing his arrangements of works by Debussy and Rachmaninov can be found on Youtube.

Lee has a great passion for unusual repertoire and Russian music in particular. In 2015 he founded his own small string orchestra, Off the Beaten Track Strings. The ensemble gives two free concerts per year with a collection in aid of a local or national charity. The orchestra specialises in approachable and enjoyable works by unheard-of composers, and lesser-known works by more famous composers.

Lee is also a full-time Graphic Designer with Birmingham Royal Ballet.

 Previous Conductors

David Sadler
John Harper
Terry Lamont
Tim Carter
Julian Clayton
Stephen Roberts
John Savage
Stephen Elery
Fa-Fa Jin
Gareth Harris
Stephen Muir
Edward Venn
Gareth Thomas
James Ham
Jamie Man
Martin Sleaford
Thomas Payne
Alexander Webb


Next Concert

Date and Time

Sunday 26th June 2022 7:30pm


Beethoven: Overture 'Creatures of Prometheus'; Ravel: Pavane pour une infante defunte; Borne: Carmen Fantasy (Flute Soloist: Sonia England); Graener: Music am Abend; Glinka: Symphony on Two Russian Themes;


St Andrew's Church, Barnt Green, B45 8NR

Previous Concerts

April 2022

Miroslav Skoryk: 'Melody'; Mendelssohn: Nocturne from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'; Nikolai Miaskovsky: Cello Concerto in C minor (Soloist: Edward Furse); Liszt: Mendelssohn Variations (Wedding March); Mozart: Symphony No 35 in D (Haffner);

Novenber 2021

Schubert: Italian Overture in D (D590); John Ireland: Threnody for Strings (2nd mvt of Concertino Pastorale); Debussy: Petite Suite (orch Armstrong); Beethoven: Symphony No 1 in C;

December 2019

Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante K364; Shostakovich: Symphony No 12

June 2019

Chabrier: Joyeuse Marche; Butterworth: The Banks of Green Willow; Stanford: Sons of the Fleet; Elgar: 'Nimrod' from Enigma Variations; H.Wood: Fantasia on British Sea Songs; Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture;

March 2019

Offenbach: Orpheus in the Underworld Overture; Debussy: Suite Bergamasque; Dvorak: Cello Concerto

Other Recent Repertoire

Brahms: Violin Concerto; Sibelius: Symphony No 2 in D; Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture; Weber: Horn Concertino; Vorisek: Symphony in D; Rossini: William Tell Overture; Ciurlionis: The Forest; Tchaikovsky: Excerpts from 'The Nutcracker'; Delius: On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring; Holst: A Somerset Rhapsody; Parry: Symphonic Variations; Elgar: Cello Concerto; Alnaes: Marche symphonique; Mascagni: Intermezzo sinfonico (from Cavalleria Rusticana); Hoffmeister: Viola Concerto; Beethoven: Symphony No 7 Offenbach: 'Orpheus in the Underworld' Overture; Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod from 'Tristan and Isolde'; Leoncavallo: Concert Suite from 'Pagliacci'; Sibelius: Finlandia; Bizet: l'Arlesienne Suite No1; Glazunov: Symphony No 4; Nicolai: Overture The Merry Wives of Windsor; Five operatic Arias (soloist Edwin Kaye);


We are always looking for new players, particularly lower strings and brass. If you would like to join us and wish to have further information, please fill in the form and we will come back to you as soon as possible.